Day 7. Thursday, April 27 – Day Off Key West, Florida

Friday 28 April 2017

There is nothing quite like Key West, the homes,the sense of humor, the shops and the saloons,this picture is at 10:00 in the morning, note the people at the bar ……truly unique!

Though we promised ourselves rest, we spent the entire morning walking from end to endof Duval Street and back, playing tourist and taking in the sites.  The Southernmost House in the Continental U.S., the Casa Cayo Hueso,St. Paul’s Episcopal Churchand more bars….…Oops, actually this picture is where we had breakfast!  Except for the cruise ship crowd we managed to avoid, we were surprised to see how few tourists were here.

By noon, we took refuge in the shady courtyard of our little motel and actually did put our feet up.

Late afternoon, we were rested and ready for one last glimpse at the beautiful sea and a bit more of Key West.The restaurant we choose offered beautiful orchids, but not much in the way of good food; but all was redeemed by ice cream, afterwards.  On our stroll back to the room, we ran into the parade (complete with candy and beads) celebrating the liberation of the Conch Republic.  Though the camera gave out before the parade actually started, we did manage a few shots of the gathering of characters, quite the show.

So now that we have gotten a few days of riding under our belt, feel a little more comfortable with being able to do it for longer than a week and are at the southern most point of the east coast…..time to ride home!  If you are somewhere along the east coast, give a shout out and maybe we can connect on our ride through.

Day 8. Friday, April 28 – Key West to Marathon Key, Florida

Friday 28 April 2017

Even starting before sunrise, the temperature was 77° and the heat index was 90°; this is going to be a hot one!

We pedaled down for our obligatory picture with our bikes of our Key West start.  The photo is fuzzy because of the humidity on the lens.

And a slow start it was; within an hour I managed two flat tires; we had not even clocked eight miles once we finished the tire changing. Once past the Key West mayhem and out on the open road, we felt the breeze the weatherman had predicted.  Thankfully, it kept us cooler in the thick humid morning.  We passed mangroves,a million boat related shops and finally the gorgeous sea.  By ten, we’d only pedaled 27 miles, but we were tired and hungry.  Though we stopped at the first place we came to, it was absolutely delicious (and the a.c., wonderful).  But we inhaled our meal so quickly, we did not manage a photo.

Refreshed and back out on the road the wind had picked up several notches (as in 15 mph) and was blowing directly in our face.  We took refuge on the bike path, when available, but every bridge was a challenge.  However the water color was amazing, every possible shade of beautiful surrounded us.

Hot and already beaten up by the wind, we knew Seven Mile Bridge would be a challenge.  We stopped a few times on the bridge, just for a break from pedaling into the wind (and to take a picture) but  never imagined it would take us nearly an hour to get over the bridge.  Even the amazing water was beginning to loose it’s appeal.  Another mile after crossing the bridge, we collapsed into the first place with cold refreshment.  Though only two and a half miles from our hotel, we took a long stop, pedaled another mile for lunch and an hour later checked in.

Across from our little motel is the Cracked Conch Cafe, no website, no menu posted, but if you ever go through Marathon Key, we highly recommend stopping.  The New England Conch Chowder is amazing, as is the Seafood Platter (not your ordinary platter) and Conch Stuffed Chicken.  And don’t forget dessert; Key Lime Pie is on the menu, but we could not resist the Death by Chocolate!  It was a hard fought 54 miles today, but dinner made it worth it.

Day 9. Saturday, April 29 – Marathon Key to Key Largo, Florida

Saturday 29 April 2017

The wind was HOWLING as we stepped out into the dark morning.  A few blocks pedal for breakfast and on the road before 6:30, barely noticing the warm humid morning for the 20 mph wind.  The full frontal wind assault was especially brutal on the bridges, where we fought for every pedal stroke just to maintain 6 mph and that is on a flat bridge.  Needless to say, we stopped often and took advantage of every bike path and the shade it offered.  We were surprised by how little traffic we encountered on the highway beside us, but by 11:00 a.m. it was bumper to bumper heading south.

Only one high rise bridge today, but it was exceptionally difficult; we had to pedal hard on the downhill and still could not get into double digits on the odometer.  Fortunately, it was only one mile long, though it still took us 15 minutes to pedal.  But the views, amazing.  Once off the bridges, the sea grapes and mangroves along the bike trail did offer some protection from the wind.  By ten, we had managed 32 miles, so stopped for an early lunch and a break from the wind.  The marina beside the restaurant had a lot of locals hanging around. Once again the water was spectacular and the local scenery colorful.  So was this little guy that we found along the road.

It was a hard fought 54 miles in almost five and a half hours today, so we found it only fitting to gorge on pasta.  A perfect find was two blocks down the road; a huge bowl of meat sauce and Chicken, Artichokes and Spinach in a Gorgonzola Sauce…..OMG!  We waddled back to the room and fell asleep listening to Jimmy Buffet.

Day 10. Sunday, April 30 – Key Largo to Cutler Bay, Florida

Sunday 30 April 2017

The wind was still blowing hard when we pushed away an hour later than yesterday; our legs needed every bit of rest we would allow them.  It was only a 45 minute pedal on a tree lined bike path, before we turned away from the Keys and onto the Crocodile Causeway; now the wind was at our back and what an enjoyable difference.

Our first bridge was a high-rise and for the first time since Key West, we were pushed up and flew down without pedaling. Once again, traffic heading south was heavy and light in our direction.  There was really nothing but marsh and fields as we glided past the Southern Glades.  So it was strange to see a canal and boats along the highway.

We were feeling pretty good after the 21 mile wind assist, as we entered the civilization of Florida City. Though the traffic on Highway 1 had been relatively light, we were ready to get away from the noise.   Our course directed us to the South Dade Trail, an ample path a block off the highway and directly beside two dedicated bus lanes, nice and quiet.We traveled past the Homestead City Hall and Circus, which seems rather redundant, yes!?

But this trail had us heading northeast, so the east blow was problematic.  We stopped for an early lunch and long rest while we contemplated going further than our planned stop.  But the last six miles with the 20 mph wind and stronger gusts, convinced us to stop at 45 miles and rest.

Our stroll to dinner was cooled by the still blowing wind, much easier when you are only walking two blocks.  We noticed on our walk back from dinner, the clouds had built and the sky had darkened.  The minute we walked in our door, it poured.  We only hope this will either (or both) cool the temperatures or calm the wind.  Find out tomorrow.

Day 11. Monday, May 1 – Cutler Bay to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Monday 1 May 2017

Last night’s rain had cooled the air and washed away some of the humidity, but the wind was still blowing.  We enjoyed yesterday’s wonderful trail along the bus lanes for another eight miles, thankfully with the wind on our shoulder.  When that trail ended, we still had a dedicated and well marked path that took us through Coral Gables and into Downtown Miami; only encountering rush hour at the intersections.  With this easy bike path through downtown, we missed our turn, but the backtrack was worth it.  Out on the streets we ambled along through the gorgeous waterfront area of Brickell Bay, past the American Airlines Arena, the Port of Miami and to the Venetian Parkway.  A bicycle is definitely the way to travel the six islands of exclusive homes between Miami and South Beach….up close and personal.  Having visited this area several times in the past, our pictures were few.

With our early start, 11:00 seemed like a good time to stop.  Found a great Cuban cafe for a little bite to eat, this breakfast came with a plate full of fries and bread and fresh squeezed orange juice.

Back on Collins Avenue (aka: A1A) the opulence was staggering, even mind-boggling and very difficult to capture on camera.  Taking it all in was exhausting, looking up, right, left while trying to avoid the traffic we rode beside.  Even the few miles of the boardwalk we biked, had the camera going non-stop.Close to Ft. Lauderdale, we had to take an inland turn to navigate around Port Everglades and the airport.  We had not realized how cooling the ocean breeze had been, until we were off the sea.  It was a long, hot few miles before we turned back on to our highway and into our hotel.  Though the 58 mile ride was longer than originally expected it was well worth it.  Jerry’s brother and wife were traveling south (not on bicycles) as we were heading north and we managed to connect here for drinks and dinner.  It was a good day!

Day 12. Tuesday, May 2 – Ft. Lauderdale to Palm Beach, Florida

Tuesday 2 May 2017

A late breakfast allowed us to share a bit more time and one last hug with brother Bobby!  We promise a photo of the four of us, when we meet again.

It was a warm 80° this morning, when we finally hit the street and that is about as negative as it gets for today’s ride.  It was not long before a southerly breeze made the morning temps bearable and assisted our northerly pedal.  The streets and sidewalks were filled with walkers, runners and bikers enjoying the morning.

Yesterday’s ride was pretty amazing and we thought, could not be topped, but today continued to delight.

Not long after we began, we approached a drawbridge that had just started to open.  Perfectly positioned at the bottom of the bridge was a shady park that gave us a perfect view of the fishing boats heading out to the Gulf.

 The ride through the narrow strip of land of Pompano Beach, Hillsboro Beach, Boca Raton, Highland Beach, etc, etc. is truly incredible.  And every town has either green space or a park, right on the ocean.

Words cannot describe the homes that are nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intercostal Waterway.  The camera could not paint any better picture; either the camera could not capture the entire house or they were hidden behind massive gates and/or landscaping or the gate houses obscured the view.  Some of the home’s gate house/garages have more livable square footage than most average homes.

In-between the homes, fabulous condosand tree lined streetscast cool shade on the road and the beach glowed it’s spectacular azure.  In the especially narrow sections of land, a “home” would be on the Atlantic, but their “boat” will be across the street (A1A) on the Intercostal or visa versa.For instance, this is the beach cabana for an Intercostal home.

It was pure sensory overload with many more pictures below to prove it!

The shorter ride today and slight tailwind got us to our hotel just in time for lunch.  The small strand of shops by the sea and directly across from our hotel was the perfect place for a light lunch.The early arrival gave us time to do some laundry and to go through the ridiculous amount of pictures we took, today.

On the way to dinner, we stopped by a fun bar for happy hour; too many great sayings lined the walls, but this we really liked.  A couple doors down the street we found THE Best Pizza we have ever had, seriously,  even better than Reginos.  Started off with a couple slices and a Stromboli and could not finish.  So stuffed, we could not partake of the Chocolate Bar right next door, but that is okay.

Today was an amazing ride, actually the last two days has got to be the most impressive stretch of real estate we have ever seen, anywhere!

Day 13. Wednesday, May 3 – Palm Beach to Stuart, Florida

Thursday 4 May 2017

The morning was delightfully cool (73°), washed clean of humidity from the shower we’d walked back in from dinner last night.

Okay, this is now bordering on obnoxious, correction IS obnoxious.  For five miles we biked through decadence with the rush hour traffic of this very elite neighborhood, counting maybe a handful of commuters.  On the bridge over the Lake Worth Lagoon, the amount of workers coming into this area was bumper to bumper.  We pedaled along the west side of the Intercostal Waterway, not without it’s share of nice homes. until our quiet course was interrupted by construction, forcing us into downtown West Palm Beach.  Would not have been our first choice of course, but it did give us the opportunity to see City Hall, this is just the entrance.

Back on course, we enjoyed ample bike lanes and beautiful parks until crossing the Lagoon (again) into the pretty town of Juno, which sits unusually high above the sea, and then Jupiter Island. Views of the sea and oceanfront parks were abundant.  After two hours of riding into the slight headwind, our legs were beginning to feel the stress.  An hour later, we crossed yet another bridge to find a bike shopto replenish the three flats/tubes we’d had; with shade and a bench, we stopped for lunch, leftover Stromboli.  Not sure if it was the 10 mph headwind or the multiple bridges that were killing our legs, neither were bad, but the accumulation of both was wearing us out.  However the views, homeswith their modest beach cottagesand landscaping continued to delight and amaze.  We could see very little of the homes on Jupiter Island, nestled on acres of lush landscaping that stretched from sea to waterway.It was as if we were biking through a tropical botanical garden.  After 40 miles, we turned away from this surreal area, but not without one last look at the beach, note the color of the sand has darkened.

Still shocked at the miles of waterfront parks and dune protected areas, that still offered access (and free parking) to the beach.

It was another 15 miles and a rest in the shade before reaching our hotel and even at 2:00, no clean rooms.  But their poolside Tiki Bar was open, so we rested and refreshed until we could check-in.

Tired as we were, it was a gorgeous day for riding.  The very low humidity and north breeze easily tempered the 90° temps.  And when the wind did pick up with a few good gusts towards the end of our ride, it turned to our side, so gave us no further issue.  On our walk to dinner, we passed this antique sign.  How many people remember when it looked like this?

A delicious dinner and then rest after our 55 mile day.